May 17, 2013
The $1.6 Million Metaphor
people recognize the power of metaphors and analogies to influence and persuade,
many feel, and you may be one of them, that they just aren’t talented enough to
create these word images. They think, “I’m not that imaginative.” “I wasn’t a
good English student.” “I’m not a writer.”
To which I say, “Hogwash!” You can be a metaphor-maker and get wondrous results,
just as Greg Hopkins did.
Greg Hopkins is in technology and systems support for a bank headquartered in
Connecticut. We met when he wrote to me about my metaphor book, ”The Tall Lady
With the Iceberg.” One word led to another and eventually to this story about a
recent sale he made with the help of a metaphor.
Anne: Who were you talking to?
Greg: I was presenting to a local University. The audience
included members of the student body, the dean, members of the faculty, the
director of telecommunications, and six un-named members of a consulting firm
evaluating the final three vendor solutions.
Anne: What was the nature of the content?
Greg: The content consisted of a review of several key points
from a 400 page Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new telephone system providing
the latest voice/data/video/network technology. It also involved a discussion
about dedicated service people, a dedicated engineer (me), and services included
for the duration of the contract, and installation.
Anne: Where were people likely to glaze over or get totally
Greg: The technology discussion and supported services would be
the most difficult.
Anne: What metaphor/analogy did you use to get them to
“de-glaze” and “get it?”
Greg: I decided that I could explain this information in terms
of a highway, a comparison they could easily grasp.
I explained that the new technology platform was an all-in-one solution giving
users flexibility to communicate anyway they needed, whenever they needed. I
explained how the new technology platform was like giving all the users access
to a high speed, multi-lane super highway. I went on to tell them that the super
highway would be designed to handle all of the current user traffic and even
future traffic demands as they increase over the next five years. I told them
that unlike the Connecticut highway system, the new super highway was capable of
adding new lanes quickly, easily and inexpensively to support spikes in traffic
during rush hour. They were happy to learn their users would not experience
grid-lock or traffic jams.
They all grinned when I mentioned there would be no accidents or collisions on
the super highway.
Anne: What result did that lead to for you and your group?
Greg: We sold the total contract for a bit over $1.6 million
and later generated additional revenue when we sold smaller connected systems
for two of their off-site campus locations.
Greg: Yes, we were very pleased. And because of the highway
metaphor, the dreaded confusion or boredom I was expecting for the technical
explanation turned out not to be even a bump in the road (no pun intended).
No matter what you explain -- investment processes, strategic
marketing plans, long-term tax implications, therapy treatments, scientific
findings, business models – you need never be concerned about losing or
confusing people when you illustrate your ideas with metaphors or analogies that
tap instantly and visually into what your listeners already know.
"The image always has the last word". Lawrence Simmons, writer
Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.
Why the Market is More like Golf Than Tennis
Just as Greg Hopkins simplified his complex explanation with a
metaphor for his client, Tracy Fielder, Product Management Director & Strategist
Rethinking Risk at Invesco takes what is a dry and potentially confusing topic
for most people and uses a metaphor to turn it into something interesting and
provocative for his audience . Check out his
And this gem from Bill Clinton
“Being President is like running a
cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s
listening.” Quoted in The Granite State News, 4/11/13
*Chosen Top Sales Book of the Month for April by Top Sales World*
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Jane Newton, Wealth Manager, Regent Atlantic Capital LLC